Camilla McConnell’s Legacy

Photo courtesy of Webber International University.

A bequest is the simplest way to leave a legacy to support the issues, organizations or community that mean the most to you. Charitable donors to CFWNC have created hundreds of expectancy funds over the years that support nonprofits across the spectrum and the region now and will in the future. The reasons that people open funds are varied and personal, but generosity and a desire to give back is always at the heart of the decision.

In 2022, generous people donated $43 million to CFWNC, the second highest amount ever. “Often in years with higher revenue, CFWNC has received an unusually large gift,” explained Senior Development Officer Becky Davis. “The largest gift that came in last fiscal year was through a bequest. Digging a bit deeper into the numbers, we saw that more than $16.4 million in estate gifts was received, more than double any recent year on record.”

A major estate gift flowed into the Camilla McConnell Endowment Fund, created in 1999 and updated in 2014 to reflect her charitable wishes. McConnell lived in Waynesville and cared about her community. Distributions from her fund began this July. The Fund will support Webber International University, which (which was founded by her grandparents to honor her) and designated Haywood County nonprofit organizations - forever. This type of annual income for a nonprofit supports sustainability and helps it to budget and plan for the future.

“Webber was the second school of business for women in the United States. Camilla’s gift helps students who really need it – 40% of our students receive PELL grants; half are the first in their family to go to college,” said Webber International University President and CEO Dr. H.K. Wade. “Our median debt is $27k – for four years of private, residential college – and many of our kids have jobs before they graduate. Camilla liked that. She didn’t have to work. She worked – at Webber as a secretary and registrar – and, in her later years as a Christmas tree farmer, because she thought people ought to work. It was certainly a different world when Camilla graduated from Webber in the 1940s. The idea that you find something you’re good at and put your all into it, is still very much something we teach.”

Camilla McConnell’s legacy will support Webber University and the nonprofits that were meaningful to her during her life in perpetuity. While estate gifts to CFWNC fluctuate significantly from year to year, the desire to give back and help others is universal and inspiring. Expectancy funds, like hers, are a statement of trust in and commitment to nonprofits and their futures.